Our history

Christchurch is one of five cities in the world known as a ‘gateway to Antarctica’. This is far more than an empty title. The garden city acts as a conduit to the icy continent, sharing and championing Antarctic geography, history and culture.

In 1990 Christchurch International Airport saw the need for a visitor centre to Antarctica. The airport wanted a complex that could show people why the airport was so important to the Antarctic scientific programmes, and why these programmes and the continent was so important to the world.

The airport commissioned Tim Hobson (a regular Antarctic visitor himself) to shape and manage the development of the centre. Renowned local architects Warren Mahoney were contracted to design the building.

The airport campus proved the perfect site for the new building. Home to a number of other Antarctic programmes and organisations, the campus provided an important focal point for the many endeavours happening further south.

Since opening in 1992 the International Antarctic Centre has welcomed millions of visitors, steadily introduced exciting new exhibits and experiences and won plenty of awards and much recognition for work in tourism.